Welcome to Teaching Tuesday!
Last week we talked about the various legal entity options that are available to photographers in business. Read it here. This week we’re going to be talking about fictitious names.
A fictitious name is a business name other than your personal legal name or your registered business name. A fictitious name can also be called a trade name or be referred to as a “DBA” or doing business as name.
If you are a sole proprietor, and your business name is anything besides your exact legal name, you’ll most likely need file a fictitious name application. The reason for this is that when you are a sole proprietor, you and your business are one and the same, there is no other way to identify who you are or who owns your business besides your personal name. Think about it, how could anyone find you as the owner of your business if it’s not a registered business (meaning it’s a sole proprietorship and there are no records with the state about your business or who the owner is) and the name is different than your legal name?
Here’s an example: Your legal name is Suzie Sweet Smith. Your photography business name is Suzie Sweet Photography, then you need to register that as a fictitious name. Likewise, if your photography business name is Bubbles Galore Photography, then you need to register that as a fictitious name.
If you are a corporation or an LLC and you are engaging in business in the exact name of the corporation or LLC as filed in the paperwork with your state, then you most likely do not need a fictitious name. However, if you are functioning under a name that is different from your official legal name, then you do need a fictitious name for the same reasons set forth above.
Here’s an example: You form an LLC as Blah Blah Photography, LLC. However, later on you add another aspect to your business and now you go by Blah Blah Photography + Storytelling. As Blah Blah Photography + Storytelling is different from your official business name of Blah Blah Photography, LLC, then you need to register Blah Blah Photography + Storytelling as a fictitious name.
What happens if you don’t obtain a fictitious name?
Some states don’t require that you register a fictitious name. However, most do and in Florida, if you are required to obtain a fictitious name and have not done so, you cannot maintain an action or proceeding in court until you have obtained a fictitious name registration. Also, in Florida, failure to comply with the Fictitious Name Act is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
Check your state’s laws!
DISCLAIMER: Information found on this blog is not legal advice, it is merely a discussion of legal topics that affect photographers for educational purposes only. CreatePro Legal Forms is not your attorney and there is no attorney-client relationship or privilege of any kind. Further, this discussion is not a substitute for legal advice.